• joe@jhanderson.biz   
    (206) 351-5607   

  • You are equipped by default with two valuable mechanisms you can use to practice mindful focusing. The first is a set of highly sophisticated sensors attached to your ankles: your feet. The second is a system of air passages and musculature conveniently configured with connections to most of your upper body: your breathing apparatus.

    Pay close attention to what your feet are doing, or what’s happening with your breath. Either method brings your attention away from you habitual focus on your stream of thoughts, and opens up an awareness of the rest of your experience.

    Focusing on your feet has a couple of built-in advantages. They are as far away as you can get from your mental activity. And they’re available to remind you to literally take a step back from your thoughts any time you walk down the hall to the kitchen or the bathroom, or even just stand up for a quick stretch break.

    The breath has its own benefits. It’s right there in the center of your body. You’re breathing all the time, so it’s always there to be noticed if you choose to. And, even more than your feet, your breath lets you practice focusing without anyone else having a clue that you’re doing it.

    Whole books can be (and have been!) written about mindful breathing and mindful walking. But both of them are dead simple. See what happens!

    Try It: Notice your feet (sitting, walking, or standing) for 30 seconds. You can stand in place, or take a short walk (30 seconds is about fifty steps…your mileage may vary). Pay attention to your balance. Notice the muscles of your toes, instep, and ankles. When your mind wanders, gently bring it back.

    Try It: Notice your breath for 30 seconds. No need to make any changes: just notice how your breathing is happening. Is it shallow or deep? Relaxed or tense? Notice where the air is coming in at your nostrils, and how it flows into your lungs. What are the muscles involved in breathing (from neck on down to diaphragm) doing? When your mind wanders, gently bring it back.